A few weeks ago we had this discussion on the shoutbox about Berserk. I was really looking forward to it, but people were saying that it did not hold up, compared to its manga. And fair enough, the anime is only 25 episodes long, while the manga has been running since 1990 and still hasn’t finished, meaning that there was no way for the anime to be able to completely tell a story that wouldn’t conclude, even thirteen years after its airdate. The original manga of Berserk also seems to be one of the most well received mangas out there.
The thing is though, and most people who have been reading this blog for a while have been very much aware of this, but I’m terrible at reading manga. Blame a lack of time, but series like Blade of the Immortal, Bokura no, Himitsu Top Secret, Pandora Hearts: I loved all of them despite being somehow unable to just grab and check out their respective mangas. Even though some of them made huge changes and none of them get to the real meat of their source material, I’m still a huge fan of them as standalone, albeit very incomplete stories, based on manga that are God knows how good. I’ve been stuck at the Bokura no’s thirtieth chapter for years now, despite it being awesome just like its anime counterpart.
In any case, Berserk is the same: ridiculously incomplete, ending with one ridiculous hell of a cliff-hanger, but it’s also a ridiculously well executed anime.
I t really immediately sets itself apart from all of the other fantasy series that were spread across the nineties. The atmosphere is dark and gritty, it doesn’t try to glorify its battles (this series is completely brutal when it needs to be, and never tries to hide it), and the battles themselves are very well drawn, detailed and animated. The series quickly stars focusing on battles on a larger and larger scale, and yet the series consistently stays many levels of believability above what you’d usually expect in series that focus on medieval warfare.
What really sold me to Berserk was its character-development, though. Even though I have no idea how good the character-development in the manga must be, the anime really makes excellent use of its time to put as much meaning as possible into its three main characters. The plot is entirely meant to explore them, push them forwards to their goals, and get the best out of their characters while remaining perfectly paced so that each event flows into the other.
As a contrast though, the rest of the cast pales in comparison. They’re mostly static and really not the most interesting. There are unfortunately a lot of episodes that focus on them, and I feel that this series would have been even better when it made its characters, especially the people who end up on the other end of Guts’ blade, a bit more down to earth and give them a bit more character, rather than having Guts kill the same hordes of punching bags over and over again.
Really though, just for Guts, Casca and Griffith I’m really glad to have watched this series. It’s really one of the most mature action titles out there, both with its gore and the way it uses this gore to look at its characters. As for the ending… I don’t think I really need to describe in how many ways it gave us the middle-finger, but I nevertheless consider this series to have an amazing finale.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Slow, but very solid, and absolutely brutal when it needs to be.|
|Characters:||9/10 – The side characters are nothing special. The main characters are wonderfully developed, though, with a lot of meaning put into them.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Gorgeous artwork from the nineties. Plus, its soundtrack was composed by Susumu Hirasawa.|
|Setting:||8/10 – A detailed look into medieval warfare, but ridiculously incomplete.|